Mason Dow and wife Frances Belle Parker with kids Atticus Parker Dow and Olivia Parker-Dow on their holiday in Japan.
Mason Dow and wife Frances Belle Parker with kids Atticus Parker Dow and Olivia Parker-Dow on their holiday in Japan.

Testing time for locals after holiday

IT STARTED as a long-planned trip with the kids to Japan, and ended in a coronavirus test back in Maclean for Frances Belle Parker and her family.

While everyone has been tested clear, Ms Parker said it was an anxious three days to get the word that they were in the clear.

Ms Parker said the two-week trip was long-planned one, which they surprised their kids on Christmas with a trip to Disneyland and Disney Sea, which by the time they arrived had closed due to the fears of the coronavirus spread.

The first few days, travelling with friends they started in Hokkaido in the north enjoying a few days in the snow, even meeting up with another Clarence family holidaying in the region.


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"The day after we arrived they declared a statewide emergency for Hokkaido," she said.

"All the schools were told to stay home, don't go out anywhere, and I think their holidays were due to start in two weeks' time, so they got those two weeks leading up as well."

Travelling down to Tokyo, she said they not only noticed how clean it was, but how thermal detection was used in many places.

"Going into hotels you'd get your temperature checked - every day we left and then came back, and each we'd get our temperature checked to ensure we didn't have a fever," she said.

"If you did you were confined to your room.

"Even in restaurants they were taking your temperature before you could eat."

With many places closing down, including the two Disney properties, Ms Parker said they couldn't do many of their activities, but with everyone taking the event seriously, they felt safe.

"I'd say there was probably 80 per cent of the Japanese wearing masks on public transport, but it was nowhere near as busy as it was when we were there on our honeymoon 10 years ago," she said.

Returning to the Gold Coast after the holiday was a different matter, and Ms Parker said there was no screening at all, with people expected to self-report any illnesses.

"There was no thermal detection, and stepping out into the airport there was no hand sanitiser anywhere, and we were used to seeing them nearly every two metres in Japan, but here it was few and far between," she said.

With her son Atticus having developed a cough in Japan, they travelled back to Maclean, and rang the hospital to have a test done.

We weren't sure if it was just the change of seasons, but we thought we'd get him checked out," she said.

"We called emergency and they'd give you a time to come through and they came out to the ambulance bay with gloves and masks and took a swab from the nostril and throat."

The family then put themselves into isolation, with friends and family dropping over food to get them through.

"The hardest bit was coming back and not being able to mix with my friends and see family," Ms Parker said.

"My cousin's funeral was on and I couldn't go to that as I didn't want to go close to our people and risk it in the community."

Despite being told the test could be back as quick as 3-4 hours, after daily phone calls the all-clear came four days after test, at 7am Monday morning.

"We've heard that there's a big backlog of tests in Australia at the moment," Ms Parker said.

"At the back of our mind we were pretty sure we didn't have anything, as the friends who we travelled with came back earlier and got tested, and got their results within 36 hours they were clear.

"But if people are getting it from just having cold symptoms, you just can't risk it."

Ms Parker said people had been understanding of their decision to isolate themselves, saying that you just couldn't be too sure.

"20 days ago Italy had the same number of case that Australia does now, and look how quickly it has blown out," she said.

"We were constantly checking Smart Traveller while we were there, and it all comes back to make sure you wash your hands, cough into your elbow, it's just common sense."